Free Pre-K Education for Hawaii Keiki: How to Apply

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Two hundred children in Hawaii will have access to free pre-K education at home thanks to a donation from the organization TED. Philanthropic Dollars has positioned the nonprofit Waterford.org to bring its research-based program to Aloha State.

“When a child starts school behind his peers, it is very difficult to catch up. It is even more difficult for children from marginalized communities or for families whose first language is not English,” Waterford.org national spokesperson Kim Fischer said in a statement.

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According to the non-profit organization, there are approximately 2.2 million 4-year-olds who do not have access to publicly funded preschool education in the United States.

Waterford is one of eight nonprofits globally honored as the 2019 TED Bold Project. It is charged with reaching even more 4-year-olds without access to pre-K education, including 200 children in Hawaii.

Through its Waterford Upstart program, underserved families receive a home-based early education solution, which includes a computer they keep on completion. Waterford even provides internet access should a household need it.

Caregivers are given the tools to become the first and most influential teachers, supported by a coach who offers advice on how to engage children offline. The program offers online instruction for 15 minutes a day, five days a week. There is no financial cost.

According to Waterford research, 92% of children who attend this program are ready for kindergarten, compared to a national average of 65%. This number is even lower for children who are entitled to free school meals.

“We know there are barriers to access in communities across Hawaii,” Fischer said. “We want to help fill those gaps with this home-based program so children can enter their first day of school confident and ready to learn.”

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Click here to apply for the program. Registration is open for children entering kindergarten in the fall of 2023. Applications are open until May.

Christy J. Olson